To ‘gazump’ is to refuse to sell a property to a buyer in order to accept a higher offer from another buyer.
The gazumped buyer has a dilemma: either raise the stakes and put in an even higher offer or accept that the property is lost and start seeking another. Aside from the emotional anguish involved it can be financially draining as well. The gazumped buyer may have already paid out for searches and surveys and could face a legal bill as well if their solicitor does not offer a no move no fee service.
In England and Wales the seller (and buyer) are only legally bound to carry out the sale of the property once the written contract has been ‘exchanged’. Until this point either the seller or the buyer can walk away without any obligation to the other. The problem arises because there is a time gap between the informal agreement to buy/sell (normally made through the estate agent) and the exchange of contracts. This time is necessary for the buyer to arrange a mortgage, carry out a survey and have the legal side of things checked by their solicitor. The buyer needs to be sure all these things are in place before legally committing to buying the property. However, during this period the estate agent is obliged to inform the seller of all further offers made on the property and they may be tempted by a higher offer.
If you get gazumped there is nothing you can do about it. But there may be some things you could do to minimise the risk of being gazumped in the first place:
If you would like further information or advice please contact Anthony, Natalie, Catherine, Karen, Amy or Michelle on 01752 668246 or send an email by clicking here. Alternatively you can obtain an online conveyancing quote by clicking on the button at the top of the page.